The chronometer reality of running and ageing

When runners sign up for my 1-on-1 coaching they first fill out a questionnaire that tells me all sorts of information. Even the way they fill it out, the number of words or the choice of nouns, verbs and adjectives clues me into their personality. But what I’m mostly interested in discovering is their past, present and future.

What kind of sports did they play when they were young? Have they always been active? What did their running programme look like last week? What’s their goal in the near (or far) future?

All this information tells me where they have been, where they are now and what they hope to achieve.

Lately I’ve gotten a lot of requests from runners that did really well in the past, took a break (planned or unplanned) and then decided to get back into running but can’t find that same groove that they had before. Nine out of ten times the problem lies in the age gap.

Yesterday I received an inquiry for a runner slightly younger than myself. Here’s an example of the past/present/future Q&A.

Past: What’s your marathon PR and when did you achieve it? Answer: 3:42:46 in 2006

Present: Give me your schedule from last week. Answer: Nothing, I’m not running at the moment.

Future: What’s your running goal? Answer: to run a marathon in 3:30:00.

It’s really hard to break it to someone that ten years have passed and they may not be able to achieve the same running times they were capable of in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s. But now I have a better answer! I send them over to the Age Equivalent Running Results calculator over at Marathon Guide.

All you have to do is type in the distance and time you ran and how old you were at the time. I put my own marathon times in as an example.

Age equivalent calculator

I ran my best marathon time in Paris in 3:51:46 at age 38. Even now I get these nutty ideas of trying to train to get back to those times. Crazytown, I tell ya! It’s just not gonna happen. We mature, hormones change and even our running style and posture “evolve”.

The slowdown is natural but it shouldn’t discourage you. When I see that the equivalent time for a marathon for me today would be somewhere around 4:30:00 I’m a little more inspired to give it a try.

So go on, plug in some numbers and see what the results are. Then get on out there and have some fun by training with a touch of passion again.

  1. PaulaP
    What a cool calculator - thanks!
  2. Ioana
    I love how determined you are to reach your running goals. I sometimes lack the motivation to run, but I'm training with SportMe running appwhich calculates distance, pace, time and calories and adjusts running plans to my progress.